Acknowledging the (Recalcitrant) Elephant in the Room

(Walt Handelsman via

Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly spells out the obvious, one more time:

Seven months after raising the specter of Republicans trying to hurt the economy on purpose, I can’t help but notice the “sabotage” question appears to be picking up some steam. Just this month, some high-profile, mainstream pundits have begun exploring the issue, and just this week, two of Congress’ most powerful Democrats broached the same subject.
Yesterday, Michael Tomasky went even further, arguing that Democrats should start “saying openly what has been clear for months or even years now — that as long as economic recovery would work to the political benefit of Barack Obama, the Republicans have been, are, and will be in favor of sabotaging the economy.” Tomasky added this is “obvious.”
The point isn’t to question Republicans’ bizarre priorities or values; the point is to make economic argument clear to the public. Too many bemoan a vague “lack of political will” or “absence of leadership” as the reason so little gets done. Those people are wrong.
Republicans said a payroll tax cut would help create jobs, and now they’re opposed to their own idea. Republicans said the Economic Development Administration is great for the economy, and now they’re opposed to that, too. Republicans have traditionally supported infrastructure investment, but the “infrastructure bank” idea appears likely to be killed by the GOP. Many Republicans endorsed the TANF Emergency Fund last year as an incredibly effective method of lowering unemployment, and the congressional GOP killed that, too.
Republicans are blocking qualified Treasury Department nominees who could also be working on economic policy. Republicans are blocking qualified Federal Reserve nominees who could also help improve the economy, while demanding that the Fed do nothing to promote economic activity. The GOP is demanding that Congress and the White House agree to immediately take money out of the economy and eliminate public-sector jobs, even when conservative economists say that’s crazy. What’s more, these same Republican officials have made it abundantly clear that failure to give them the cuts they want would force them to crash the economy on purpose.
And it’s against this backdrop that one of the most powerful Republican officials on Capitol Hill has argued, more than once, that his “top priority” isn’t job creation, but rather, “denying President Obama a second term in office.”

There’s a metaphor, originally I think from Alcoholics Anonymous, that badly damaged, dysfunctional people / families / organizations limp along by “ignoring the elephant in the room“… the ‘elephant’ being the horrible truth (addiction, co-dependency, criminal activity) which can’t be treated until everyone stops pretending it doesn’t exist. And in a group situation, the pretence is usually at the behest of one domineering individual who forces their victims to buy into their pathology at whatever cost to the rest of the group.

The current GOP leadership has taken its pathology to the national level, and its members (with the complicity of most of the media) are holding us all hostage to the worst elements of political authoritarianism, religious fundamentalism, and economic piracy. We need to start talking out loud about the dead elephant in the room — the GOP doesn’t want to protect America, they just want to protect Republicans.

Someone Has To Make Decisions

You want to know why the Presidency keeps getting more and more powerful? Because someone has to make decisions.

The House just voted against authorizing the Libya mission, then voted against defunding operations in Libya. I’d ignore those idiots, too. If I were President, until these clowns get their shit together, I’d pretty much do whatever I wanted.

Early Morning Open Thread: Whitey in (His) Winter

Now, more than ever, I regret the premature death of George V. Higgins. The hacks and wanna-bes at the local papers are taking their various victory laps. The local teevee newscasters were literally giggling on-air about the potential for future drama, with the leading themes summarized by the top-ranked VSP Obnoxious Jackass of Every Troll’s Aspirational Dreams (Jon Keller, for you locals):
(1) Bulger was living a mere five miles from the local FBI office because that’s as far as his FBI handlers would trust him — or he them.
(2) Why now, after almost 17 years? Because continuing public-image irritants (like the Pakistan ambassador’s jibe comparing Bulger to OBL) finally gave “a new generation” of FBI agents enough ammunition to out-vote those among their elders who either took Bulger’s bribes; ‘handled’ him as a supposedly valuable ally in the War Against Some Drugs, as represented by the Mafia; or were golfing-and-fishing buddies of the guys in those categories.
(3) Was this week’s expensive roll-out of those ‘Have You Seen This Gun Moll?’ PSAs just a method of “protecting a sensitive asset, a/k/a informant“, or is that ‘informant’ a face-saving figment of the Bureau’s never-very-creative imagination? In either case, how much did it cost the taxpayers? (one of Keller’s favorite catchphrases)
(4) What are the chances that Bulger will either die before going to trial, or be found incompetent to stand trial at all? He’s 81 years old, and the newspods are already collecting clips of his little-old-lady neighbors from the apartment complex using words like “Alzheimers” and “sudden changes of mood” and “increasingly reclusive over the last few years”. Between the pride Whitey took in never testifying, and the embarrassing things he could say about his relations with LEOs from the Southie street-level up to the highest national networks (sure, lots of those guys are dead by now, but most of them had families), it would not come as a total surprise were it to be announced that his final disposition would be a nice quite hospital room somewhere in the less public precincts of the correctional services. Sorry, no — he’s not available for visitors. Health reasons.
(5) And, finally, who gets the $2million reward? “Maybe his girlfriend turned him in,” suggested Everybody’s-Favorite-Uncle Anchorman (Jack Williams), “that’s what some people are saying.”
I can’t think of a writer, other than the man responsible for both The Friends of Richard Nixon and Style versus Substance who can do justice to this particular chowder.

Open Thread

I’m almost afraid to do this, but I will be going to a party for my friends who are getting married on Saturday, and I have to leave the blog unattended for a few hours. Yesterday, I took a 45 minute nap in the afternoon, and that was enough time for you all to crayon the walls, put saran wrap on the toilet seats, feed Rosie a half pound of chocolate, and by the time I woke up the Wednesday race riot had broken out and JSF was daring EEMOM to stick her tongue in the wall sockets.

I’m begging you all. Please behave.

We Know The Answer To This


Cantor is putting personal power before country here, and in a very dangerous way. If Boehner actually does manage to cut a decent deal despite Cantor’s effort to throw him under the bus, he may not hold on as leader of his party, but unlike Cantor, he’ll deserve to. For better or worse, this is when we learn whether anyone on the Republican Party’s leadership team is actually prepared to lead.

They got all the concessions they wanted on spending, now Kyl and Cantor have withdrawn from the process as soon as the topic shifts to taxes.

We know the answer to this question already, Ezra.